When Baby Isn’t the Gender You Had Hoped For

What do you do when baby doesn't turn out to be the gender you had hoped for?  A candid discussion with Amy @ RaisingArrows.netPerhaps you’ve had your hopes and dreams set on having a little girl, but God hasn’t given you one.  Or maybe He’s given you girls, followed by a string of boys.  Or maybe it’s the other way around and you’ve only had girls and really would like the joy of raising a little rough and tumble boy to carry on the family name.

And you feel guilty.

You know you should feel blessed by the gender God has given you, but you can’t help but feel disappointed when it doesn’t turn out the way you had hoped.  Sure you love those babies with all your heart, but deep in your heart you wonder if you’ll ever get your wish.

I know this because I’ve lived it.

My story probably isn’t the same as yours, but I know what it feels like to wish baby was the opposite gender.  I know what the longing feels like.  I know what the guilty disappointment feels like.

When Emily passed away in 2008, I desperately wanted another girl.  Not that I wanted to replace her, but because I wanted to regain a little of what I had lost.  Instead, I had a blond haired boy on New Year’s Day of 2009 whom we named Micah.

When Baby isn't the Gender You Had Hoped For | RaisingArrows.net

I remember my OB saying she felt it was probably best I did have a boy following Emily’s death, and I quickly came to the place where I agreed with her.  He was a delight, and I was not sorry he was a boy for long.

When Micah turned 1, I found out I was pregnant again.  This became a pivotal point for me.  In my mind, I had “done my time.”  I had birthed a boy child following my daughter’s death, and I “deserved” a girl.  I became very wrapped up in wanting a girl.  In fact, going into the sonogram, I was nearly sick to my stomach with anxiety.  Because we never let the sonographer tell us what we are having, but we always look for ourselves, it leaves a shadow of a doubt we carry with us into the delivery room.  However, looking at the sonogram that day, I was pretty sure I saw a boy.

And I cried.

All the way home.

And many days after that.

I compared sonogram photos of my other babies, hoping to be wrong.  Hoping the little one I was carrying was not another boy.

But, he was…

When Baby isn't the Gender You Had Hoped For | RaisingArrows.net

Little Garin had colic and I had postpartum depression – both of these were firsts for our family.  However, as Garin grew, and both the colic and PPD subsided, I began to see what an amazing gift the Lord had given me in this child.  Garin was and is an absolute joy to raise.  I realized I had squandered a lot of time wishing for him to be something other than what he was.  I had not been enjoying my little boys because I was too busy wishing for another little girl.

When Baby isn't the Gender You Had Hoped For | RaisingArrows.nerWhen I became pregnant with our next child, I vowed NOT to waste time wishing for a girl.  I threw myself into preparing for a new baby no matter the gender.  We came up with a boy name we loved.  I decorated in blues and yellows.  And I began to ENJOY the boys God had given me.

Including the little boy named Creed born January 2013.

When Baby isn't the Gender You Had Hoped For | RaisingArrows.netHe was my third boy in a row, and I was thrilled!

I now have 5 boys.  They are rowdy and rambunctious, but wholeheartedly devoted to their mama.  In fact, I’ve come to a place where I’ve wondered if this baby is a girl, do I even remember how to be a baby girl mama again?  It’s been 7 years since I had a little girl, and with Emily gone, my next girl in age is 10.  My girls are at a very different stage in life than my little boys.  My house is no longer filled with girly toys, but rather Legos and cars.  Wrestling is a daily occurrence, and the words, “Don’t hurt your brother,” are said multiple times a day.  This zoo of boys is my norm.  In fact, the 4 youngest boys have taken on the collective term “little boys.”  As in, “My little boys are all wearing red,” or, “Little boys, come here!”

Do I still wish for a girl?  I don’t know if WISH is the right word.  I would love to have the chance to raise another girl.  Yet, I know in my heart it would be scary because of my circumstances – having had my last little girl pass away at the age of 7 months.

Do I feel I NEED another little girl.  No, not anymore.  I have learned to celebrate each precious life – boy or girl.

But, it wasn’t easy.  It was a God thing.

When Baby isn't the Gender You Had Hoped For | RaisingArrows.net

I would like to offer you some suggestions on how to learn to celebrate each baby no matter the gender because I’m a practical person who likes to have tangible ways to help me work through difficult circumstances.  These are not meant to be “band-aid” solutions or ways to just “get by.”  These are ways to start training your brain to see your babies as blessings and gifts from God in exactly the gender package God intended.

*Enjoy the children you have.  One thing I wasn’t truly doing was enjoying my little guys.  I was looking toward the next pregnancy as the one that would bring me another chance at a girl.  This is not how God intends for you to parent.  Enjoy the babies you have!  Find good things about having a string of boys (or girls)!  Revel in the fact that these little ones were given to you and learn to cherish that!

*If you find out gender ahead of time, take that knowledge and make it special.  Buy or make something special just for that baby.  Celebrate – and I don’t necessarily mean a “Reveal Party” because that could backfire on you if well-meaning friends and family are disappointed and say so.  Take time to enjoy your pregnancy and prepare for the new baby in a special way.  Come up with a name you love.  Take time to ponder who the new baby will look like.  Thank the Lord for this new life and the privilege to carry this child.

*Don’t let others feel sorry for you.  Even if you are feeling sorry for you, don’t allow others to do the same as that will only perpetuate your feelings of disappointment.  You can be honest with those you love, but if you are going to learn to be content, you have to learn to be outwardly blessed by the gender of children the Lord has given you.  You don’t have to quote Scripture to exude thankfulness.  You need only to offer a smile and an appreciation for the children you have.

*Make having a lot of one gender special.  This is where it gets fun!  Dress them alike.  Plan parties and outings and homeschool projects that cater to their gender.  Be a boy or girl mom full force!

*Be joyful and count your blessings – but give yourself grace.  Once upon a time, I had more girls than boys.  In the blink of an eye, that changed.  Of all people, I should have been thankful.  I should have counted my blessings.  But, in my humanness, I wanted what I did not have.  Learning to see my boys as something other than stepping stones on my way to the girl I felt I deserved took time, humility, and an entire change of heart.  I needed grace to get past the guilt and disappointment.


Do you have a story to share about your own disappointment?  Perhaps you have an encouraging word for mamas traveling this same road.  Please, feel free to share your thoughts and comments below so that others may be encouraged and blessed!

How Well-Meaning People Unintentionally Hurt Those Who Grieve

How Well-Meaning People Unintentionally Hurt Those Who Grieve | RaisingArrows.netI didn’t want to write this post.  I didn’t want anyone to look at things they had said or done in the past and wonder, “Have I hurt someone who was grieving?”  But, this is an important post.  I get emails every week from people who want to help their grieving friends and family.  Many of them are afraid of saying or doing something wrong.

It’s not that grieving people are a crazy lot who hold grudges the rest of their lives based on what you do or don’t do, but there are typically two kinds of people who unintentionally hurt grieving people - the thoughtless and the over-thinkers.  Neither one of these groups are trying to hurt others, but if I can shine just a bit of light into the world of grief to help these two groups see their way, that is what I will try to do with this post.

1.  Not being there – You may think grieving people don’t notice who writes, who comes to the funeral, who calls, who helps out, but they do.  With stark clarity.  You may feel completely inadequate to truly “be there”, but not being there at all is not the answer.  If you can come to the funeral, come.  If you can come to the house, come.  Set aside your fears of inadequacy and just do something.  I know it’s hard.  I’ve been on both sides of this.  It is never an easy thing, but it is a necessary thing.

2.  Saying “it was for the best”, “she’s in a better place”, or any variation thereof – That hurts.  If you think about for just a bit, you will hopefully hear how those words could hurt a grieving person.  I am without my daughter, and even though I know God’s perfect will is perfect, I don’t want to be told right now that my child being anywhere else is better for her.  Now is not the time.

And never, ever tell me that had she grown up, she might have turned away from the Lord and brought us all sorts of sadness.  And never, ever tell me I’m young enough to have more children.  You might believe these comments help you to make sense of what feels like a senseless loss, or help me feel like I can move on, but instead it ends up feeling utterly dishonoring to the memory of my child.

3.  Trying to find someone to blame – No grieving person needs to be subjected to a rant by someone else.  In my mind, blaming someone for whatever has happened, is a rant.  Don’t give me a laundry list of everyone who is at fault for this tragedy, just let me grieve without having to filter your anger and blame too.  You can read more about how people naturally look to blame others in a tragedy.

4.  Putting grief in a box – We all grieve differently.  I prefer to grieve alone.  Some people prefer to grieve loudly.  Some need to say what they need to say and move on…until the next time.  And yes, some people seem to grieve forever.  Whatever you do, don’t try to put someone else’s grief in a box and give them timelines and rules for grieving.  Remember with them.  Give them hope for a future.  But don’t have expectations.

5.  Not acknowledging their loss – Sometimes in our uncomfortableness, we avoid topics that we are afraid of.  We brush over dates and names.  We steer conversations away from anything that might remind our grieving friend or family member of their loss.  We try to soften the pain by never acknowledging the pain.  Stop doing that.  Please, speak my child’s name.  Please, remember the 4th of July as her birthday and February as the month she passed away (you don’t have to remember the exact date, I’m ok with that.)  When you pretend like nothing happened, you hurt me far worse than if you acknowledge my daughter’s death by including her in my life.

6.  Making this about you – We want to relate.  Its natural.  But, unless you have a VERY similar story or are asked to tell your story, avoid it.  In those early days, grieving people can only handle their own grief, and they are barely doing that.  Don’t heap your grief on them and don’t try to compare your grief to theirs.

In my post on helping a grieving friend, I mention how losing your dog, your grandma, or even your parent is not the same as losing a child.  And the reverse is true.  Let the grieving person grieve their own loss without needing to filter through yours.

Additionally, don’t tell a grieving person how you “almost” lost a child or “almost” lost a parent.  There was a long period of time where I struggled with being around people who had almost lost children, but hadn’t.  They made me angry.  I know, that’s an ugly truth, but truth nonetheless.  Almost and Did are nowhere near the same.

7.  Never being normal around them again – This may sound odd considering I just said that not acknowledging their loss is hurtful too.  However, you CAN be normal AND acknowledge their loss at the same time.  Don’t assume I don’t want to go out for a meal or ice cream because I’m grieving.  Don’t assume I don’t want to take a walk or take the kids to the park.  In the early days, it is hard to do things without your loved one, but I needed life to move forward too.  I needed to be treated normal, and not like a scary disease.  I needed friends who would come over, not because I might need to talk, but because they just wanted to spend time with me whether I talked or not.

Grieving people need to be reminded that they are human.  They need to be slowly coaxed back into the land of the living.  They need to slowly return to joy.  But, they desperately want to avoid leaving their loved one behind as they make that return.  You can help be that balance for them by speaking memories and hope in their life one day at a time.

Grief is hard.  And at some point, you are going to flub up.  If you flub up because you were thoughtless – say so and apologize!  If you flub up because you were over thinking – say so and apologize!  I can almost guarantee you will be forgiven because if there is one thing grieving people appreciate more than anything, it is the acknowledgement that NOTHING ABOUT THIS IS EASY.

For our story and more help for those who grieve and the friends of those who grieve, visit my Grieving Mother page.

Learning to Love Every Age and Stage

Learning to Love Every Age and Stage | RaisingArrows.netWe have a wide range of ages in our household – all the way from little bitty to nearly grown.  It’s a lot to keep up with, but I enjoy it so much!  However, I remember a time when this wasn’t the case.  I remember when I didn’t relish every moment because I didn’t know I was missing anything.  And even if I had known, I probably wouldn’t have known how to change it.

Then I reconnected with a childhood friend who was very vocal about loving her children.  She loved them “out loud.”  She told me she would memorize their little faces as they nursed because she didn’t want to miss a moment.  And I was in awe.

It had never occurred to me to enjoy my children right where they were.  I was always too busy trying to get them to the next stage.

Learning to Love Every Age & Every Stage | RaisingArrows.net

So many mamas are rushing through their children’s childhoods. Some are excited for the future. Some are weary of the present.  Some know they should slow down.  Some never give it a thought and just keep plodding away.  Most are a mixture of all of these, and far too many of us are “missing the moments.”

Enjoy Every Age and Stage | RaisingArrows.net

Baby Creed is 14 months old.  Every day I wake up and stare at him and realize he is growing up before my eyes, and if I don’t enjoy the very age he is right now, I will never have that chance again.

I am thankful the Lord brought someone {back} into my life who truly loved her children and showed me by example how to make memories with my children before I found myself with only memories to hold on to.

You may never know the pain and emptiness of losing a child, but if you do not grab hold of the age and stage your children are right this very minute, there will come a day when they will be gone in the figurative sense, and you will wonder why you didn’t savor their growing up years.

Learning to Love Every Age & Stage | RaisingArrows.net

There isn’t some magical formula to loving your children right where they are.  It is more a careful and purposeful slowing down to gain perspective.  It is a hug, a kiss, a smile, a listening ear.  It is taking photos and videos – even if they are on a cell phone.  It is keeping a journal with them or sharing a Special Night.  It is being a student of your child, learning more about them every day.  It is thinking before you speak, and loving more than you lecture.  It is speaking out loud just how blessed you are.  It is looking for the good in every age and stage, rather than dwelling on the bad.

It is realizing they do grow up, faster than you would ever imagine.

Large Family Homeschooling eBook | by Amy Roberts of RaisingArrows.net

Homeschool Convention Time! {Welcome Home Wednesday}

Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention 2014

Tomorrow morning, I hop a plane to Nashville for our first homeschool convention of the season! I am so excited! I always get giddy when it comes to homeschool conferences because it means refreshment and refocusing for me.  From the moment I attended my first homeschool convention back in 2002, I’ve been hooked!
{affiliate links included}

Over the years, Ty and I have attended many different conventions.  They each have their own flavor.  Teach Them Diligently has quickly become a favorite of mine because of its focus on families.  It’s not just about academics, and as a veteran homeschool mom, I appreciate that.  I need encouragement that goes far beyond the rigors of textbooks and spelling lessons.  This Nashville weekend is going to be a breath of fresh air!

I am also presenting 3 sessions of my own in Nashville!

Creating a Peaceful Home
Your Perfect Schedule
and
Large Family Homeschooling – based on my soon-to-be released ebook by the same name!

Large Family Homeschooling eBook releases April 1! | RaisingArrows.net

I will be offering these same sessions in Dallas later in the summer.  If you are attending either conference, be sure to look me up!  I love meeting readers!

I also want to give you a FREE gift to help you plan and prepare for a homeschool conference.  They can be overwhelming and a bit like drinking from a fire hydrant.  I’ve compiled some posts I’ve written on attending homeschool conventions into a small ebook you can download by clicking on the icon below:

FREE Homeschool Convention Survival Guide | RaisingArrows.net

I also want to note that in last week’s link up, Amy from Plain and not so plain offered a FREE Kindergarten & First Grade Curriculum, and Jennifer from A Heart for the Home gave some wonderful tips for How to Handle Homeschool Burnout.

The #1 clicked post from last week was from MamaGab, and yes, it was about babies – or rather No More Babies.  I ended up pinning this post to my Grieving Mother Pinterest Board because while Gabby’s fears did not stem from losing a child, her words echoed many of the same words in my own heart.  These are fears any mother who has had a traumatic experience must some day face.  A worthwhile read.

Now, it’s your turn! Link up as many as 3 posts from your blog and enjoy the other links left here!  {If reading via email, please click over to see the links and leave yours!}

Welcome Home Wednesdays
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Christmas Without Emmy

Emily Christmas DayEmily’s first and only Christmas was 6 years ago.

Not a Christmas goes by that we don’t think of her, celebrate and grieve at the same time.  Her stocking is still hung with the others, in between her two brothers€¦a gap only we see.  Her ornaments still bedeck the tree, some celebrating her life, some commemorating her death.

From the photo above, taken on Christmas Day 2007, you can still see how swollen little Emily is from the IV fluids.  The hospital tag is still on the carseat because we had only brought her home the night before.  My sister had taken my children shopping for gifts and my sweet Megan, only 7 at the time, had chosen the bear.  The quilt was given to us by the Pediatric nurse who cared for Emmy during all her hospital stays; the nurse who 7 weeks later came to a funeral none of us were ready for.  The bibs are a typical 1st Christmas present in our home; the same present little Creed is receiving this year for his 1st Christmas.  Emmy, in her usual contentedness, sucks her thumb.  There have been no thumb-suckers since..a fact which saddens me.  My children ask for another sister for Christmas.  every. year.  The Lord has not seen fit to grant their wish€¦nor mine.  My little boys hugs my leg and kiss my cheek and I tell myself it doesn’t matter because I would not trade any of them.

but Lord€¦perhaps€¦some day?

Christmas is a celebration of birth, but as a grieving mother, I see the death that is coming€¦and the HOPE that will follow.  All my longings hinge on a promise, the promise that starts here.

So, while I’ve talked specifics of what holidays are like without a loved one, without a promise and the hope of that promise being fulfilled, we are missing the Truth of our circumstances.  Do I hurt?  Yes.  Do I miss her with all my being?  Yes.  Do I write these words through tears?  Yes.  But next week I will celebrate the Promise.  I will cling to the Hope.  I will walk in Truth.

And some day€¦yes, some day…

 

Scripture Lullabies ~ peaceful music for the entire family

Scriptures Lullabies ~ the peaceful music I was looking for {review & giveaway} | RaisingArrows.net

{Disclosure:  I knew from the moment I listened to the preview tracks of “Hidden in My Heart” Volume I & II that I wanted to review and giveaway a set of these Scripture Lullabies here on Raising Arrows.  I received a free set of CDs and was compensated for my time to write this post.  The opinions are most definitely my own.}

I had been looking for Scipture-based music to play at night for my little ones. Unfortunately, many of the Bible lullabies I have run across lean toward the corny side, with tinny voices and digitized music that sounds digitized.  I wanted music that offered Scripture in a beautiful and soothing way.  I wanted something peaceful that could be played all day long.  I wanted something that wasn’t just for children, but for the entire family.  {Little did I know just how important “Hidden in my Heart” Scripture Lullabies would become to me as a mom€¦read on…}

Scripture Lullabies volume I & II {review & giveaway from RaisingArrows.net}

Soothing Scripture Lullabies for Baby

I love to turn on these lullabies as I rock my babies.  I cannot help but think how the music is washing over them with the Word of God as they close their little eyes and relax from a hard day of play.

At that time Jesus declared, €œI thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children
Matthew 11:25

Scripture Lullabies for baby & mama | RaisingArrows.net

Peaceful Scripture Music for Mommy

Sometimes my mind wanders at night.  I tend to struggle with fear as evening approaches. Losing a child has made me acutely aware of death and sickness and sometimes these thoughts nearly consume me.

One night recently, I felt these fears begin to creep back in.  I remembered I had downloaded the bonus tracks from the Scripture Lullabies website, so I laid down in bed and opened my laptop and turned the music on beside me.

If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Proverbs 3:24

The fears subsided and sweet rest overtook me.  Oh, how grateful I was to have this music.  Now, these Scripture Lullabies are the first thing I go to at night when I start to feel fearful.  I fall asleep listening to God’s Word.

Beautiful Scripture Music for the Entire Family

I want God’s Word to be a part of my every day life.  I want it to be the thread that holds my day together.  I want my family to be steeped in Scripture every waking moment.  Sometimes I’ll start our day with a Scripture Lullabies CD.  Sometimes I’ll put one on in the afternoon for Rest Time.  Sometimes we’ll end our day with it.

I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

In my book 10 Days to a Peaceful Home, I talk about our Family Worship Time every night.  We love to have music be a part of our evenings and the Hidden in My Heart CDs and MP3s are perfect for bringing the day to a close.

Fall asleep to Scripture Lullabies {review and giveaway from RaisingArrows.net}

Bless a new mom, a family of new believers, or your own family this Christmas season with the peace of God’s Word!  They will cherish this gift!

You can purchase these Scripture Lullabies through their website.  Use this coupon:

SLPROMO13
to receive 15% off
(expires 12/31/13)

The money from every 10th CD sold is donated to a pregnancy resource center!

Take a moment to listen to some of the tracks HERE or watch the video below for a taste of just how beautiful this music is.

And be sure and watch for the release of Volume III – Hidden in My Heart:  A Lullaby Journey Through the Life of Jesus COMING SOON!

Today, I am pleased to have the opportunity to give away a “Hidden in my Heart” CD or MP3 download to 2 readers!  If you win, you will get to choose which album you want and whether you want the CD or the download. (email readers CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway)
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